By: Carrie K.
Growing up in a small community, people didn’t talk about alcohol abuse. There was a stigma attached to those who the community suspected abused drugs but people rarely mentioned “heavy drinkers” or “drunks.” I never knew what substance abuse was, what symptoms of alcoholism was or what chemical dependency was. It was a dirty secret that our tight-knit community never talked about.
It was not until my mid-twenties when my life was spiraling out of control that I had to figure out why I was so depressed, hopeless and careless about whether I lived or died. After being institutionalized for depression and going home with a renewed hope I thought I had overcome my season of depression. Every time I was hospitalized I was honest about the frequency of drinking but rarely about the amount. (I thought every twenty-something drank weekly, I was just able to drink more than most everyone I knew.) Not once, out of the five or so hospital admissions (each extremely intoxicated) did one doctor address my drinking habits.
A month after my release from the institution, after a nearly fatal attempt to end my life, my family gave me a choice: go to treatment for alcoholism or be committed to a long term mental institution. It was an easy decision. I’d go to an inpatient treatment facility and breeze right though the 28 day stay because I didn’t have a drinking problem.
I walked up to the treatment center door and was asked by a patient, “Do you work here?” That was all the validation I need that I didn’t need to be there. I had a good job, a new car, paid my bills, and provided everything that my son and I needed. True alcoholics can’t hold down a job, I thought.
It wasn’t long until I realized that indeed, I am an alcoholic! I learned so many things about my disease. I am not a bad person, I didn’t choose to be an alcoholic and I am not a lower class citizen.
Today I’m not focused on my faults and struggles, I’m focused on my recovery! I have an even better job, a nicer car, healthy relationships and am proud of who I am.
It hasn’t been the easiest thing but it is the most important decision I make on a daily basis.
My name is Carrie K and I’m a person in long-term recovery!